The first hanging in the story occurs when a young man steals soup during a bombing raid. The theft reveals the desperation and hunger of the prisoners, and the boy is not afraid to take a risk. He is willing to risk punishment for the chance to eat something nourishing. This event highlights the unpredictability of life in the concentration camp, where the smallest chance of survival is seized upon. The hanging of the boy shocks Elie Wiesel, who is eating soup at the time, and he reflects on the fleeting nature of life and the lack of control he has over his fate.
The second hanging takes place when a Gestapo officer accuses a boy of sabotaging an electric plant at Buna. The boy is a servant of a prisoner who is a suspect in the sabotage case. Despite the lack of evidence, the Gestapo tortures the boy and sentences him to death. The hanging of a young boy who is barely alive is a horrific and dehumanizing experience for the other prisoners who are forced to watch. This event further undermines Elie’s faith in God and highlights the senselessness of the violence in the camp.
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The two hangings demonstrate the brutality of the Nazi regime and the dehumanization of the prisoners. The fact that young boys are executed shows the utter disregard for human life and the arbitrary nature of the system. The hangings also reveal the impact of the violence on the prisoners, who are traumatized by the experience. For Elie, the hangings represent a loss of faith in God and humanity, and he struggles to understand how such cruelty can exist in the world.
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